Making Meetings More Productive Series

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Making Meetings More Productive Series: The Basics, Advanced Concepts and Techniques, Managing Meeting Dysfunctions, and Advanced Meeting Facilitation

By Dean Herrington
Book 1.  Making Meetings More Productive:  The Basics
Making Meetings More Productive:  The Basics introduces the “super secret scientific formula” for planning and conducting much more productive business meetings, which is:
MP =  R x P x P x P, where,
R = Roles
P = Purposes
P = Procedures
P = Proxemics
In book one you will:


  • Learn about the two major meeting elements:  Content and Process.
  • Examine the four most crucial meeting Roles:  Meeting Leader, Recorder, Timer, and Participants.
  • Encounter the five major Purposes for having a meeting:  Information Sharing, Problem Analysis, Solution Seeking (also called Idea Generating), Decision Making, and Action Planning.
  • Explore a number of discussion Procedures which can be used to conduct meetings, including Round Robin, Spit-Wads, Fishbone, etc.
  • Discover the impact that Proxemics, the arrangement of the room, seating positions and placement of audio/video equipment, has on the dynamics of a meeting.

Think of this book as your bachelor’s degree in meetings, and the next three books in this series as your advanced degrees.
Book 2.  Making Meetings More Productive:  Advanced Concepts and Techniques
In the first book in this series, we introduced the formula for a successful meeting, one element of which was meeting procedures.  In this book, we’ll expand on the concept of accelerated meeting techniques, delving into the anatomy of a meeting procedure, and giving detailed instructions for using a wide variety of techniques for conducting a wide variety of meetings.  We’ll remind you how to identify the purpose(s) of your meeting and how to match that purpose with an appropriate accelerated technique (or procedure) for conducting that meeting.  Detailed instructions for using every procedure are provided. 
This book will also introduce the concept of highly detailed agenda planning, presenting a number of meeting planning tools, including

  • The Meeting Options Matrix (MOM).
  • The Attendee Invitation Matrix (AIM).
  • Sample meeting agendas.
  • Blank agenda planning forms for you to print out and use.
  • The Meeting Leader’s Tool Kit.

There’s also a “bonus section” full of ideas for spurring creativity in idea generating meetings.
Additionally, we’ll introduce a simple tool for assessing the overall value of all the meetings held in your organization, The Meeting Effectiveness Mini-Survey.  We’ll also include a section on evaluating individual meetings, and three different tools for doing so.
Book 3.  Making Meetings More Productive:  Managing Meeting Dysfunctions
In this book, the third in the Making Meetings More Productive series, we introduce the concept of managing meeting dysfunctions.  It will present the following thought process when determining how to manage a dysfunction:
Frequency and Magnitude of the dysfunction determines your reaction time and the power of your intervention.

Frequency:  How often has this dysfunction occurred?  Is it the first time or the fourth time that two participants have engaged in a side conversation?

Magnitude:  How big a dysfunction is it?  Is it quiet and barely noticeable, or is it loud and obvious to everyone?

Reaction Time:  Some meeting leaders seem to have very high reaction thresholds; meaning it takes a huge group dysfunction to get them to react.  Their reaction time is delayed.  They run the risk of allowing the dysfunction to go on so long that they could totally lose control of the meeting.
Others seem to have very low thresholds, meaning that any little thing seems to set them off.  Their reaction time is nearly instantaneous; they react immediately upon the first sign of even the slightest dysfunction.  They run the risk of being seen as overly aggressive, and possibly causing more trouble than they were trying to fix.
The art of managing dysfunctions is to time your intervention so it’s fully effective and doesn’t make matters worse than they already are.
Power:  Some leaders seem to always choose low power, nearly imperceptible interventions, regardless of how serious the dysfunction is.  Others seem to always choose high power interventions, even for minor infractions.  
The challenge is to judge the frequency and magnitude of the dysfunction, and make a conscious choice of how to manage it with an appropriate intervention.  Too weak an intervention and you don’t have any impact.  Too strong an intervention and you can squash any further participation even by those who weren’t part of the dysfunction.
We’ll introduce a four-step process for managing a meeting dysfunction:  (1) cushioning, (2) reflecting, (3) coaching, and (4) structuring.
For every dysfunction that you cushion and then reflect, you must make a decision to either coach or structure (you never do both).  If you decide to structure, you could also pause and ask a coaching question of yourself, silently, as a way to finely hone the structuring intervention that you’re about to use.
In order to test your ability to manage meeting dysfunctions you’ll be presented with fifteen difficult meeting dysfunction scenarios and will be challenged to come up with detailed strategies for managing all of them.  You can then compare your approach with a suggested approach.
Finally, you’ll be challenged to describe a number of meeting dysfunctions that commonly occur in your organization, and come up with a strategy for managing each of them successfully.
It’s going to be a lot of work.  Ready?
Book 4.  Making Meetings More Productive: Advanced Meeting Facilitation
Making Meetings More Productive: Advanced Meeting Facilitation takes the reader beyond the first three books in this series, which focused on the role of the meeting leader in planning and executing productive meetings, and introduces the role of the meeting facilitator.  A facilitator is a highly trained professional capable of working with clients (internal or external) to determine the purpose(s) of an upcoming meeting, plan the agenda for that meeting, arrange all the logistics for the meeting, and then actually conduct that meeting for the client.
By reading this book you will

  • Understand the unique role of the meeting facilitator.
  • Learn to use fourteen vital facilitator skills and tools:  listening, questioning, cushioning, silence, paraphrasing, summarizing, reviewing/recapping, encouraging, stacking, redirecting, boomerang, ricochet, nonverbal signals, and range of movement. 
  • Understand the eight types of power that there are, and know which of those eight types are most important to the success of the meeting facilitator.
  • Understand how to work with clients as you move through the four major steps in the Facilitation Preparation Process.
  • Understand the various pre-meeting activities you must engage in to be fully prepared for a facilitation assignment.
  • Understand the various on-site issues you must be aware of and manage successfully.
  • Understand the after-action activities you must engage in to appropriately wrap-up an assignment.

Diligent students of this series will be well prepared to work with clients (internal or external) and to successfully plan and facilitate even the most complex types of meetings.

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